Finding a smelly red puddle under your car is certainly a frustrating experience since it immediately tells you that there’s something wrong with your power steering system. These issues can make it unsafe for you to drive, prompting the need for a trip to the mechanic, but how expensive is it to fix a power steering leak?
A power steering leak can cost anywhere from $200-$1000 to fix and takes into account the cost of the parts and the labor. Generally, replacing a faulty seal or hose is the cheapest fix, while repair or replacement of the pump is the most expensive.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with the power steering system as the truck gets older and more and more miles are being put on it, but thankfully, you can do a little sleuthing before you take your car into the shop to discern how much your repair might cost. The rest of this article will discuss the underlying issues behind power steering leaks and how much they cost to fix.
What Causes Power Steering Leaks?
Power steering is a hydraulic or electric system that makes the car much easier to turn. Without it, turning the vehicle can be very difficult and even unsafe. The fluid that facilitates this process is a viscous liquid that lubricates and pressurizes the components of the system, allowing the vehicle to run smoothly and reducing the risk of corrosion and foaming.
This fluid does ‘wear out’ over time, prompting the need for the system to be flushed and the fluid replaced over time. Fresh power steering fluid is usually a pink or red liquid, while dark brown and foamy fluid is worn out and needs replacement.
Since the system is pressurized and the composition of the fluid is so important, any leak will affect the entirety of the power steering system, causing components to be poorly lubricated or not pressurized enough. You can find out more about where the power steering fluid leaks from in a previous article we wrote, but in short it can be leaking from:
- O-rings and seals wearing down
- Wear and tear in the supply hoses
- Loose or faulty valves and hoses
The pump can also malfunction, have loose seals, or develop holes over time as well. Once your power steering fluid begins to leak, the problem will not simply go away on its own, so it’s important—for your safety and for the safety of others on the road—that you get the issue resolved right away.
How Expensive Are Power Steering Fluid Repairs?
Power steering fluid repairs can vary greatly in price depending on what needs to be replaced and how many hours of labor you’re paying for at a repair shop. A faulty hose or O-ring, for example, can usually be replaced within 2 hours, and these parts aren’t usually expensive.
You can do a little investigating before you take your car in to plan ahead in your budget for repair costs. Check the power steering fluid reservoir under the hood to see if the fluid levels are low and if there is foaming in the tank.
If so, then there is likely a leak somewhere in your system. If you are able to, check the hoses attached to the reservoir to see if you can find a leak anywhere along them.
In some cars, you may be able to access the power steering pump. If so, examine it closely to see if there is any moisture on the exterior that may indicate the presence of a leak.
Similarly, you can check underneath your car for a reddish liquid. If you see some, check the undercarriage of the car to see if you can spot any visibly loose, worn, or corroded hoses or seals to identify the source of the leak.
Once you’ve discerned the source of the leak, you’ll have a basis for how expensive the cost of the parts will be. Here’s a breakdown of power steering components and the cost to replace them:
- Total system replacement $500-$700
- Hose replacement $60-$150
- Pressure valve replacement $10
- Pump replacement $200-$250
Of course, these prices will vary from place to place, but you also need to consider the cost of labor as well, which may be anywhere from $40-$200 an hour. Thankfully, most repairs for the power steering system can be fixed within 2 hours, including problems with hoses, O-rings, or faulty seals.
The more expensive repairs are going to be related to issues with your power steering pump, which can take much longer to fix. In addition, the power steering pump is a more expensive component, reflecting on the overall cost of your bill.
How Bad Is It?
You can also expect to have to pay a lot more in repairs if your entire power steering system needs replacing, which may be necessary depending on the damage to the system or the age of your vehicle.
If you’re pretty handy with cars and have the tools, you can often work out an arrangement to pay for the parts and do the labor yourself, but this isn’t a practical solution if you don’t have the right tools or the experience working on cars.
In any event, it’s always best to ask your trusted mechanic upfront what their asking price will be for repairs; most shops will be more than happy to give you a quote for their services, and you always have the option to shop around to find the best price. On average, a power steering fluid repair will cost $500.
Some trucks are just more reliable than others and parts are just made better, but there’s always a lot of trepidation whenever you need to take your truck into the repair shop for any reason, but thankfully, power steering replacements can be completed quickly so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
What you certainly should not do is just ignore the problem—it won’t go away by itself, and a leak in your power steering system can affect other components of your vehicle as well. The lack of lubrication in the power steering system can cause a massive buildup of heat and friction, which can wear out your pump sooner.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.